How to craft a successful lead generation strategy in 8 steps

How to craft a successful lead generation strategy in 8 steps

Maximize lead generation to turn prospects into profits. Learn how to guide customers through the sales funnel and foster lasting relationships.

How to craft a successful lead generation strategy in 8 steps

Maximize lead generation to turn prospects into profits. Learn how to guide customers through the sales funnel and foster lasting relationships.

The 2024 State of the Website

Discover key challenges today's marketing teams are facing, as well as opportunities for businesses in 2024.

Read the report
Read the report
Written by
Webflow Team
Webflow Team
Webflow Team
Webflow Team

Effective lead generation plays a pivotal role in your business’s growth, ensuring a steady influx of potential customers.

Having more leads translates into increased sales and directly impacts your business’s revenue and return on investment (ROI).

But perfecting how to generate leads involves more than just drawing in prospects — it includes strategically engaging and nurturing them. By refining this process, you proactively connect with your audience and cultivate a robust pipeline of potential customers.

This strategic focus ensures you’re regularly interacting with prospects who are interested in what you offer, which is crucial for long-term success and market relevance.

What’s lead generation, and why is it important in marketing?

A lead is someone who has shown interest in your product by sharing their contact details or engaging with your content. And lead generation is the process of finding these potential customers and guiding them through the customer journey from initial interest to conversion.

Lead generation allows businesses to effectively engage with their target audience, understand their needs, and cultivate a relationship that extends beyond just a single transaction. By capturing and nurturing leads, you increase your chances of converting potential customers into actual buyers and set the stage for lasting brand loyalty.

Different types of leads

Leads vary significantly in their interest level and readiness to purchase. Some leads may actively seek a solution, while others might be in the early exploration and discovery phase.

Understanding these distinctions and classifying leads into specific categories empowers you to tailor your marketing efforts to address the unique needs of each group. 

There are two general ways leads are categorized: by level of engagement (often referred to by temperature) and by qualification. We explore both approaches below. Worth noting is that these categories often overlap — you might have a hot marketing qualified lead, for instance.

Levels of engagement

Cold leads

Cold leads know about your business but haven’t shown immediate interest. You’ll need a strategic approach to reach out to cold leads, like providing informative, high-quality content and using engagement initiatives to warm them up gradually. Personalized email campaigns featuring target content or exclusive incentives can effectively spark their interest and encourage engagement.

Warm leads

Warm leads fall between hot and cold leads. They’ve shown interest in your brand by engaging with your content — perhaps by clicking on a website call to action (CTA) or commenting on a social post — but might not be ready to purchase immediately.

To nurture warm leads, offer valuable information to keep them engaged until they’re ready to buy. Sharing informative blog posts, hosting webinars, or providing product demos can address their needs and questions.

Hot leads

Hot leads are primed to make a purchase. They show high interest in your product or service and actively seek relevant information, like asking to contact a sales rep or get a product demo. 

Typically in the final stages of the buying process, hot leads require timely and personalized attention and often need specific answers to help them make their final purchasing decision.

Types of qualified leads

Information qualified leads

Information qualified leads, or IQLs, show interest in learning more about your offerings, often downloading whitepapers, subscribing to newsletters, and attending webinars. These leads actively pursue knowledge, which signals their early engagement in the buying process.

To effectively nurture IQLs, send out targeted email campaigns, offer educational content, and engage in personalized follow-ups. These strategies help transform their informational interest into a decision to purchase by guiding them smoothly along the customer journey.

Marketing qualified leads

Marketing qualified leads, or MQLs, engage with your marketing efforts by responding to email campaigns, interacting with social media posts, and clicking on targeted ads. These actions indicate a growing interest, but not to the point of purchasing.

To guide MQLs further down the marketing funnel, use targeted strategies like personalized email sequences, retargeting ads tailored to their interactions, and exclusive promotions. These approaches help nurture their interest and gradually lead them closer to a buying decision.

Sales qualified leads

A lead is sales qualified when the sales team confirms that this lead has a strong intent to purchase. The sales team might find SQLs through direct networking (perhaps messaging a potential client on LinkedIn or chatting them up at a conference), or MQLs might become SQLs as they move along the sales funnel. 

At this point, sales teams can approach these leads with formal purchasing pitches and product demos.

The 2024 State of the Website

Discover key challenges today's marketing teams are facing, as well as opportunities for businesses in 2024.

Read the report
The 2024 State of the Website

Discover key challenges today's marketing teams are facing, as well as opportunities for businesses in 2024.

Read the report
Read the report

The lead generation process: 8 steps

The key to business success is attracting organic traffic and converting it into valuable leads.

For this transformation, you need a systematic approach to effectively identify, nurture, and convert prospects into loyal customers. Check out these eight key lead generation process steps below.

1. Examine and strategize

Begin by thoroughly analyzing your business goals and understanding your target audience. This initial step involves setting key performance indicators (KPIs), defining buyer personas, and crafting a comprehensive plan for your lead generation activities.

A software company might set KPIs that track lead generation and conversion rates and decide to target buyer personas like small business owners needing streamlined project management solutions. This targeted approach aligns the company’s lead generation efforts with their broader goals and the specific needs of their intended market segment.

2. Conduct research

After setting your strategy, conduct research to inform your decisions. This stage requires investigating market trends, analyzing competitors, and grasping your target audience’s changing needs and preferences.

That same SaaS company might use surveys, focus groups, and social media analytics for practical research. These user research tools help them understand consumer preferences and identify common project management qualms. They can then tailor product development to solve these issues and develop more personalized and effective marketing strategies.

3. Craft your communication

Moving forward, the focus shifts to crafting communication that genuinely connects with your audience. This means addressing customer pain points and zeroing in on what sets your offering apart. It’s about customizing your messaging to mirror customers’ specific preferences and aspirations.

Now, the software company can create content highlighting how their project management software solves common barriers to directly engage those looking for streamlined, efficient options.

4. Distribute content to identified leads

Identifying your target audience is one thing — effectively reaching them is another. To distribute content and engage warm leads, you’ll need to leverage multiple marketing channels, like social media, email marketing, and targeted ads.

Our example company might share content about issues with current project management tools with individuals who have previously browsed articles comparing various platforms.

5. Develop landing pages

Optimized landing pages turn interest into action. These pages act as dedicated spaces to impress leads and prompt them to take the next step, such as downloading a resource, signing up for a webinar, or purchasing.

The software company could create a free trial landing page that converts interested visitors into platform participants. This approach captures visitor attention and gives them a direct path to further engage with the company’s offering.

6. Initiate emails and phone outreach

Direct communication is crucial in lead generation. Targeted email campaigns and phone outreach enable personalized engagement and establish a direct connection between you and potential leads.

The SaaS company can design personalized email sequences that offer relevant content, exclusive promotions, or webinar invitations based on the recipient’s engagement history. Then, they can complement these emails with phone outreach to create an immediate, personal connection.

Follow-up calls after the email serve as an additional touchpoint to answer queries, receive feedback, and foster closer relationships. This multichannel approach ensures your communication stays personalized and responsive to each lead’s preferences.

7. Assess leads and transfer to sales

After engaging with a lead, evaluate their readiness for a sale. Effective assessment ensures that the sales team only nurtures qualified leads and streamlines sales lead generation and the conversion process.

Our software company might assess leads based on budget, software needs, and implementation timeline before transferring them to sales.

Here are two methods to qualify leads:

  • Gauging a lead’s interest level. Evaluate how much a lead interacts with your content and responds to communication. A lead who downloads a product guide, watches a demo, and visits the pricing page is more engaged than one who only visits a landing page.
  • Lead scoring. This method assigns numerical values to leads based on factors like website engagement, content downloads, and email interaction. A lead might score higher for attending a webinar and downloading a whitepaper, indicating a higher conversion potential than someone with minimal interactions. Lead scoring prioritizes leads more likely to convert and allows you to focus your efforts effectively.

8. Review outcomes and generate reports

Lead generation for business growth is an iterative process. You need to regularly review outcomes and generate comprehensive reports to refine your strategies.

Our SaaS company can continuously analyze their lead generation strategies’ performance by examining metrics like open, click-through, and conversion rates for an email campaign. Using these insights, they might discover that an email campaign that offered a free software demo was more effective than one that offered a subscription discount.

This ongoing assessment and adjustment process is key to maintaining a dynamic and successful lead generation strategy.

Lead generation strategy examples

Different lead generation strategies vary in their impact depending on your audience’s preferences and behaviors. By choosing a strategy that matches your business model and resonates with your target audience, you more effectively guide potential customers through the sales funnel.

Here are a few common lead generation strategies for guiding customers down the sales funnel.

Content marketing

Content marketing centers on crafting and distributing valuable digital content to captivate and engage your target audience. This includes developing blog posts that delve into industry trends, creating comprehensive guides, and producing informative videos. It’s an approach that’s particularly effective for businesses that rely on demonstrating expertise or providing solutions, such as consultancies, educational platforms, and technology firms.

By offering valuable and relevant content, you position yourself as an industry authority. This not only draws in potential clients seeking your expertise but also builds trust and credibility. It’s essential for businesses where knowledge and thought leadership are key to attracting and retaining clients.

You can also make your content gated so viewers can only access it if they provide their email address. This lets you capture leads through email form submissions and helps you build an audience that you can continue to nurture through email marketing. For example, a web development company might publish a yearly industry insights report for UI/UX professionals and collect emails from interested readers. The company can then send out a targeted email campaign to this email list of new leads.

Email marketing

Email marketing enables you to directly engage with your audience, making it a powerful tool for businesses that benefit from ongoing customer relationships, like ecommerce, service providers, and B2B companies. Your campaigns might feature newsletters with success stories, updates on industry advancements, or exclusive previews of new offerings.

Through emails, you maintain continuous contact with your audience and can add a personal touch by addressing specific information needs. This ongoing engagement nurtures your leads and keeps them connected and informed until they’re ready to decide. For businesses that rely on repeat customers or long-term client relationships, email marketing excels in building and sustaining these connections.

Social media marketing

Social media platforms provide a dynamic lead generation environment. They’re ideal for businesses that thrive on visual appeal and community engagement, like creative agencies, lifestyle brands, and startups. On platforms like Instagram and LinkedIn, you can share content that showcases your portfolio, client testimonials, and behind-the-scenes looks at your work. Engaging in conversations on these platforms allows you to connect directly with potential leads, understand their needs, and establish your brand as an industry leader.

Social media also enables your customers to share their experiences with your brand, offering social proof that can inspire their peers to become potential customers. This approach is especially effective for businesses aiming to build a community around their brand or those whose products or services benefit from visual storytelling and direct customer interaction.

Discounts and free trials

Offering incentives like discounts and free trials is a compelling lead generation strategy. It’s particularly effective for software providers and service-oriented companies because it reduces the financial risk for customers and allows them to experience the product’s functionality firsthand.

You could offer limited-time access to product demos, exclusive subscription discounts to loyal customers, and trial access to your premium services. These incentives attract leads and give them a tangible sense of your offering’s value.

Best practices for lead generation

Lead generation requires a thoughtful and consistent approach to yield optimal results. To enhance your lead generation strategy, integrate the following best practices.

Leverage data

Use the valuable insights from strategically collected data to inform and refine your lead generation efforts. Analyze customer behavioral data, preferences, and past interactions to tailor your strategy and content. If data shows higher engagement at certain times or with specific content types, schedule your outreach during these high-impact periods and produce similar content. This data-driven approach keeps your efforts targeted and relevant.

Stay consistent with messaging

Ensure your brand messaging remains consistent across all touchpoints. Consistency in language, tone, and visual elements strengthens your brand identity and helps leads recognize your offerings.

To stay consistent, consider building a style guide and using it as a reference for all your marketing efforts. This guide should detail your brand’s voice, color scheme, typography, and other visual and verbal communication elements. Adhering to this style guide helps you maintain uniformity, which fosters trust and reliability in your potential customers’ eyes.

Test and iterate strategies

Employ A/B testing to experiment with various lead generation strategy elements, such as email subject lines, calls to action (CTAs), and landing page designs. Determine which versions yield higher engagement and implement these findings in your strategy. Continuously testing and optimizing based on real-time feedback and audience preferences lets you refine and improve your approach to make it more effective over time.

From prospects to profits

Lead generation is the bridge that takes prospects to profits. It’s a strategic journey that begins with identifying individuals interested in your product. As you build trust and rapport through targeted communication, informative content, and personalized engagement, you guide leads along the sales funnel toward purchase. Through effective lead generation, you acquire customers and create lasting relationships.

Get started with lead generation by making a great first impression on potential leads. See how Webflow Enterprise, a powerful visual web development platform, can help you create landing pages that convert. Learn how to create websites that drive leads and the theory behind conversion-centered design. Or create localized and internationalized site experiences tailored to audiences worldwide. The possibilities are endless.

Webflow for Enterprise

Loved by designers. Trusted by enterprises. Bring Webflow in-house at your company with advanced security, custom traffic scaling, guaranteed uptime, and much more.

Learn more
Webflow for Enterprise

Loved by designers. Trusted by enterprises. Bring Webflow in-house at your company with advanced security, custom traffic scaling, guaranteed uptime, and much more.

Learn more
Learn more
Last Updated
March 13, 2024
Webflow for Enterprise

Loved by designers. Trusted by enterprises. Bring Webflow in-house at your company with advanced security, custom traffic scaling, guaranteed uptime, and much more.

Learn more
Learn more